Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways's Reviews > A Mad Desire to Dance

A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel
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Dec 19, 11

Read in July, 2009

Rating: 3.5* of five

Like any other Wiesel book, this is well worth reading. Don't be put off by the philosophy-student-at-2am first 50pp. Chapter 3, starting on p51, begins a different phase of the book and it's a much less claustrophobic experience after that.

Wiesel is justly famous for the memoir "Night". He's not a novelist, frankly, and a less talented writer would have turned this same story into the literary equivalent of waterboarding. Things like, "At times, in an involuntary and unpredictable way, everything spins around and becomes dislocated in my mind. At the slightest little thing, and often for no apparent reason, I weep without shedding tears and I roar with laughter. I'm lonely, terribly lonely, though a crowd surrounds me and hems me in{,}" are...well...clunky, to put it kindly. (That is from p140, the beginning of chapter 12.)

But...and here's the thing...there are passages that soar and look down at us, seeing sharp edges and stark corners where we see fuzz, mist, and shadows: "Against a world invaded by madness, should we use the faith of our ancestors, or our own madness?" (p110) And this is a simple throwaway line in a long dialogue paragraph!

I can almost forgive the non-novel-ness of the book for moments like that. I recommend the book to readers of Robert Pirsig's philosophical maunderings as a corrective, and to readers of Wiesel's own memoir as an act of solidarity with a man whose world contains so much that he can't keep it in, gotta let it out (to quote Stephen Georgiou/Cat Stevens).
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message 1: by Stephen (new)

Stephen But...and here's the thing...there are passages that soar and look down at us, seeing sharp edges and stark corners where we see fuzz, mist, and shadows: "Against a world invaded by madness, should we use the faith of our ancestors, or our own madness?"

Outstanding...Night was a life-changing read for me. I should seek his other works.


Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways I won't make a case for a priority read. I think Wiesel was amazing, but there are soooo many more books more important than his non-Night works.


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